Industry Terms

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Adhesive Types
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    Permanent: High Adhesion, usually cannot be removed with destroying label, depending on label substrate
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    Cold/Freezer Temperature: Enables a pressure-sensitive label to adhere in refrigerated or frozen environments
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    Removable: Low adhesion, usually can be removed from the substrate without pieces remaining on the surface. May cause damage to surface of some materials. After a period of time or exposure to weather, the removable label will become permanent.
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    Ultra Removable (Repositionable): Adhesive that allows a label to be reapplied in another area and is not limited to the number of times it can be repositioned. Repositionable adhesive does not gain permanency over time.

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Bar Code

A pattern of vertical bars and spaces which represent characters of data that is readable with optical scanning devices.

Biaxially Oriented Polypropylene “BOPP”

A film which is extended and stretched in both the machine and cross direction. The stretching improves physical properties over non-oriented polypropylene.


Which the printed image extends beyond the trim edge of the labels, it is called bleed.

Butt Cut Labels

Labels separated by a single cross-direction cut to the liner. No matrix area exists between labels. Butt cut labels are not suitable for automatic dispensing or bleed.

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Carrie/Liner (backing)

Refers to the backing material the pressure sensitive labels are carried on, also known as liner.


The ability of a PS material to yield or conform to the contours of a curved or rough surface.

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Destructible Label

A pressure-sensitive construction made with a face material having a low strength so that attempted removal of a label made from this stock will usually result in destruction of the label


Any of a variety of tools or devices used for cutting material to a desired shape.

Die Cut Label

Pressure-sensitive labels mounted on a release liner from which the matrix has been removed.

Die Cutting

The process of using dies or sharp steel rules to cut any shape for labels

Direct Thermal

A specialized printing technology using rapidly heated pins that selectively activate a heat sensitive coating applied to the facestock thus forming the desired image.

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Edge Lift

The tendency of the edge of a label to rise off the surface of the substrate. This condition occurs most frequently on small diameter curved surfaces. Resistance to edge life is dependent on the bond strength of the adhesive and the flexibility of the facestock.

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Face Slit

A slit in the face material of a pressure-sensitive product to facilitate removal of the liner/carrier.


Film or other specialty paper, fabric, membrane to which the topcoat and adhesive are anchored. Carries graphics to the application surface. Functions as a protective laminate. Provides a barrier to moisture or vapor. Functions as spacer material in a layered construction.

Fan Fold

Sometimes referred to as Zigzag fold. The put-up of pressure sensitive labels on a continuous backing in such a way as to form a flat pack as different from roll form.


Acetate, polyester, polyethylene, vinyl, and other polymeric face material manufacturing from synthetic high molecular weight polymers.

Flame Resistant

The ability of a tape to withstand exposure to a flame. Flame resistant (fire-retardant self-extinguishing) materials will burn when exposed to flame, but will not continue to burn after the flame is removed. Burning rate, smoke density, toxicity of fumes and melt drippings are important factors in assessing flame resistance.


Measures the ability of the label to resist flammability or burn at a specified rate.

Flexographic Printing

A method of rotary printing which employs flexible plates, rotary die cutting, rapid-drying inks, in-line lamination, and other converting operations.

Four-Color Process

The process of reproducing full printed images. The image must be converted to a set of halftone screened negatives which are a series of dots of various sizes. A halftone negative is made for each of the separate color components of the images (cyan, magenta, yellow, and black). These color separations are made into printing plates, one for each color. When printed the overlapping dots of the color components reproduce a full color image.

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Heat Resistance

This is the property of a material which inhibits the occurrence of physical or chemical changed caused by exposure to high temperatures.

Hot Stamping

A decorating process in which the desired image is transferred to a substrate by a heated, positive copy die. Images are normally limited to one color positive copy line. 

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Initial Tack

Adhesives usually have two adhesive stages: 1) Initial tack at which time it is sticky enough to hold parts together. 2) Set at which point the adhesive has firmly bonded them.

Ink Jet

A method of printing using liquid ink projected a drop at a time against a substrate.

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The functional portion of a pressure-sensitive construction comprising the face sheet and adhesive, due cut into various shapes.


A web material formed by bonding two or more material together.

Laser Printing

A non-impact electrophotographic process utilizing a laser beam to scan the surface of the drum creating a latent image which attracts toner. The toner is then transfer fused into the print surface.


This is a registered trademark of the General Electric Company for polycarbonate film material. This comes in velvet embossed and a gloss finish.


Supports the product through manufacturing and life of use. Protects adhesive until it is applied to the end use surface.

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Matte Finish

A dull finish or deglossed surface.

Metalized Film

A plastic or resinous film that has been coated on one side with a very thin layer of metal. This is usually a vacuum metalized processed film.


Used in describing the thickness of films, adhesive, liners, or the entire material construction. The term means thousandths of an inch (3 mils =.003)

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A “squeezing out” of the adhesive from under the backing, occurring when the tape is in roll form, the edges of the roll become tacky.


That property of a paper or film which prevents “show through” of dark printing on or in contact with the backside of the sheet. This is opposite of transparency.


This is an application of clear film to a graphic for the purpose of protection or to enhance the graphic quality.

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Series of small cuts made in labels and/or their release liner to facilitate tearing along a predetermined line.


A PS adhesive characterized by having relatively high ultimate adhesion. The label either cannot be removed intact or requires a great deal of force to be removed.

Pin Feed

Evenly spaced holes that are punched into the left and right margins of a continuous form, used at the collator to guide the paper through and align each part.


A strong film having good resistance to moisture, solvents, oils, and many other chemicals.


A polyolefin plastic similar in properties to polyethylene but with higher temperature capability and greater strength.


A water-white or clear thermoplastic produced by the polymerization of styrene. The electrical insulation properties of polystyrene are outstandingly good and the material is relatively unaffected by moisture. The film has limited temperature resistance and tears easily.

Polyvinyl Chloride

A versatile resin with good resistance to water, fire, and some acids. This can be made into a film that comes in clear and opaque white. It can be rigid, hard, and flexible.


(Application tape, transfer tape) Pressure-sensitive tape used to transfer a cut graphic from tis liner to the substrate.


A term used to designate a distinct category of adhesive which, in dry (solvent free) form, is aggressive and permanent or removable at room temperature and adheres to a variety of surfaces without the need of more than finger or hand pressure. Requires no activation by water, solvent or heat and has sufficient cohesive strength so it can be handled with the fingers.

Prime Label

Labels act as the main identification of a product of a product. Often designed to attract attention and contains information to appeal to a buyer and is usually applied at the time of its manufacture.

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The exact corresponding placement of successfully printed and/or successfully die-cut pressure-sensitive labels.

Removable Adhesive

A pressure-sensitive adhesive characterized by low ultimate adhesion to a wide variety of surfaces that can be removed without damage to either the label or the substrate.

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Screen Printing

Method of printing in which the ink is forced through a design on a tout screen and onto the object to be printed. This process results in a heavy ink deposit that provides excellent outdoor durability.

Self-Wound Over Lamination

This is typically a clear film with adhesive on one side, and no liner. This is a lower cost alternative to liner over laminations. Sometime there is a release coating on the top side of the film to allow for smooth and easy unwinding.


Process whereby rolls of pressure-sensitive base stock are converted into sheets of finished labels by cutting them to the desired length in the sheeting stations on a rotary press.

Shelf Life (Storage Life)

The period of time during which a product can be stored under specified conditions and still remain suitable for use (normally one year).

Spot Color

Refers to a method of specifying and printing colors in which each color is printed with its own ink. In contrast to process color printing which uses four inks (cyan, magenta, yellow, and black) to product all other colors.

Static Cling

An induced property of a film which enable it to grab onto a smooth clean surface without using a pressure-sensitive adhesive. Static Cling is a phrase applied to grabbing by electrical static.

Subsurface Printing

Printing on the underside of a clear film than laminate a layer of transfer adhesive to the printed side of film. This is a very durable construction.

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Tamper-Evident Label

A pressure-sensitive construction made of materials which will partially destruct upon removal, indicating that a package, label, or container has been tampered with.

Thermal Transfer Ribbon Testing

Tests the adhesion and quality of thermal transfer ribbon to any given label material.


Rotary dies used to cut out shapes of label.


A physical surface coating, applied to promote or increase ink adhesion with conventional and digital print technologies, or to modify gloss.

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Underwriters Laboratories

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A think, liquid protective coating, either matter or glossy, that is applied to the product. IT adds protection and enhances the appearance of the product. It can be applied as an allover coating or it can be applied as a spot coating.


A film that is highly durable and resistant to chemicals and moisture. It is high in conformability excellent for outdoor use.

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